[De]constructing Rikers Island: Confronting Architectures of Harm through Reflective Remediation
Designed environmental, social, and physical inequalities in American cities have produced sites, systems, and architectures of harm. Rikers Island is at the center of this condition in New York City. The Penitentiary Complex is located in the East River between Queens and the Bronx and sits atop a former landfill, constructed over time to meet the demands of an expanding system of incarceration. As a result of mounting ecological and human rights violations, New York City officials put forth legislation in 2019 to shut down Rikers Island. The thesis utilizes theory, mapping (historical analysis of layers), and precedents to uncover and deconstruct relationships between physical, environmental, and social/political processes temporally and spatially and develop design considerations rooted in a critical awareness of layered conditions. The design method prioritizes reflection and remediation to facilitate the Island and Penitentiary's deconstruction and remediation.